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Curriculum & Activities

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Winged Ambassadors:
Ocean Literacy through the Eyes of Albatross

Albatrosses, charismatic and threatened seabirds, are ambassadors for a clean ocean. They traverse vast oceanic regions searching for floating food. Along their journeys, they ingest plastic trash and are hooked in fisheries. These five lessons use inquiry-based science instruction, aligned to standards for grades 6 – 8 with extensions for grades 9 – 12.

Lesson 1 – Introduction to Seabirds
Lesson 2 – Tracking Albatross Migrations
Lesson 3 – Protecting Ocean Hotspots
Lesson 4 – Bolus Analysis
Lesson 5 – Campus Debris Survey

Students will:
  • Use real data from current research tracking albatross migrations and ocean plastic pollution
  • Be inspired by paintings and photographs from scientist and artist Sophie Webb
  • Investigate albatross diets using detailed images of dissected boluses by National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager
Each lesson includes:
  • Lesson plan with learning objectives and procedures, an outline of necessary materials and preparation, time estimates, suggested discussion questions and possible answers, ideas for differentiating activities for diverse learners, and expanded resources, videos and links
  • Student Worksheets and Handouts for photocopying and/or projecting
  • Presentations with photos, art, wildlife research data, and teacher presentation notes to support the lesson
Download the activity package for free at

This activity package was produced by Oikonos - Ecosystem Knowledge and Meghan Marerro in collaboration with Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument with funding from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Pacific Islands region, and West Coast region. winged ambassadors sponsors logos

Deep Coral Communities Curriculum

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Deep Coral Communities Sentinels of a Changing Ocean CurriculumTake your students on an incredible journey hundreds of feet beneath the surface of the ocean without ever leaving the classroom! Using research footage from remotely operated vehicles, your students will be able to utilize real scientific methods to explore the unique deep-sea coral communities found in our West Coast national marine sanctuaries (including Cordell Bank NMS). These materials are aligned with the Next Generation Scinece Standards, Common Core Education Standards and Ocean and Climate Literacy standards. Available free to download from the National Marine Sanctuaries Education web page.

Oceans for Life Lesson Plans

oceans for life icon The Oceans for Life lesson plans (under Grades 5-8 tab) developed in partnership with National Geographic Society, highlight cutting edge research, environmental issues facing the ocean today and our National Marine Sanctuaries. Appropriate for grades 6-8. Cordell Bank is featured in the Biodiversity lesson, which compares Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary with Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Cordell Bank:
Blue Water Oasis Film Viewing Guide and Activity

This viewing guide/activity (444k pdf) offers a few ways to watch the 15 minute film in your classroom and follow up with further discussion (Grades 6-12). To watch the video online go to the Video Gallery. Produced prior to the expansion of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the (now "Greater") Farallones national marine sanctuaries in 2015.
To request a free DVD, educators may contact for a copy.
(please allow at least 7 days for delivery.)

Investigating a habitat by submersible

Grades 7-12 submersible Students will view submersible footage and do a habitat characterization exercise for two different habitats in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (soft bottom vs. rocky habitat). Students analyze data by creating a simple graph of their results.

Activity Instructions

Identification Guide

Training Slide Show
subslideshow.ppt (powerpoint version)
subslideshow.pdf (pdf version)

Slide show script

Videos to use with Activity
Benthic Activity (Practice Video)
Benthic Activity Rocky (Rocky Reef Video)
Benthic Activity Soft Bottom (Soft Bottom Video)

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Teacher at Sea Curriculum Resources

teacher at sea curriculum After an immersive, hands on week at sea with the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Point Blue (formerly PRBO) Conservation Science teams, teachers create new activities to bring their experience into the classroom. Check out their activities below.

Beth Lancaster - Teacher at Sea 2008
High School Biology Teacher, CT

With the use of videos and looking at real data, Students will investigate how oceanographic processes influence the ecology of a California marine ecosystem.

Teaching Materials:

Download the Activity (708kb pdf)

Pre/Post text (96kb pdf)

Supporting Student Data Pages:

Bathmetry Student Data Sheet (92kb pdf)

Bird and Mammal Student Data Sheet (91kb pdf)

Zooplankton Student Data Sheet (107kb pdf)

Physical Oceanography Student Data Sheet (545kb pdf)

to go with this activity are in the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Video Library

Seafloor Habitat Comparison Activity
"Every Square Inch Counts"

Every Square Inch Counts is an activity that compares the rocky intertidal habitats of Gulf of the (now "Greater") Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to the subtidal benthic habitat in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Download the Activity and supporting materials below:

Activity outline: Every Square Inch Counts (28KB PDF)
Produced prior to the name change from "Gulf of the" to "Greater" Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

Intertidal ID Cards (480KB PDF)
Rocky Intertidal Data Sheet and Answers (36KB PDF)
Intertidal Photo Quadrat 1 (216KB JPG)
Intertidal Photo Quadrat 2 (380KB JPG)
Intertidal Photo Quadrat 3 (368KB JPG)
Intertidal Photo Quadrat 4 (316KB JPG)
Intertidal Photo Quadrat 5 (368KB JPG)
Intertidal Photo Quadrat 6 (332KB JPG)

Subtidal ID Cards (3.5MB PDF)
Subtidal photo data sheet/answer guide (68KB PDF)
Subtidal photo A 8.5x14in (1.5MB PDF)
Subtidal photo B 8.5x14in (1.1MB PDF)
Subtidal photo C 8.5x14in (1.1MB PDF)
Subtidal photo D 8.5x14in (676KB PDF)

Introductory Slideshow in PDF format (10.6 MB PDF)
Introductory Slide Show Script (676KB PDF)
Produced prior to the name change from "Gulf of the" to "Greater" Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

To get the powerpoint version of the introductory presentation, contact